St Andrews Day & all things Scottish

Today we celebrate the Patron Saint of Scotland – Saint Andrew. As our company was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1926, Emreco holds many Scottish ties. Although this year we made a move to Slough, our managing director – Richard, our head of design – Rachel, and our marketing manager (me) Martina – are all Glasgow born and bred, so today is a day that lies close to home.

St Andrew was first recognised as the Scottish patron saint at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, where there was an appeal to the Pope by the Scots for independence from England. He is now the patron saint of many countries other than Scotland, including Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Barbados and Tenerife. The Scottish Saltire flag was chosen in honour of him, and every year the 30th of November marks the start of the Scottish Winter Festival.

So what better way to celebrate this day than to talk about all things Scottish? There is no doubt you will be thinking of Irn Bru, haggis and kilts – and that is exactly what I am going to tell you about!

Did you know, that the official animal of Scotland is actually the Unicorn?

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Scotland boasts 790 islands, 130 of which are actually inhabited. It also has over 600 square miles of fresh water lakes, including the famous Loch Ness – where you may find the Loch Ness monster! The first sighting of the monster was reported in 565 AD by one of St Columba’s followers, who claimed to have been attacked by a water beast!

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Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, has more listed buildings than anywhere else in the world.

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The kilt – the famous Scottish item of clothing – is a piece of tartan worn around the waist, predominantly by men. It is usually accompanied by a sporran (a small bag worn around the waist and is the Gaelic word for purse), a kilt pin which holds the two pieces together at the front, and a Sgian Dubh (pronounced skee-an doo) which is a small dagger that sits in the sock. It originated in the Scottish Highlands and quickly became a fashion statement. It still features prominently in designers collections, especially Vivienne Westwood’s.

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St Andrews Links is considered to be the home of golf, and the course has been played on since the 15th century. The town is renowned for its university, and is the home of where Prince William met his now wife, Kate Middleton.

The ‘national flower’ of Scotland, the thistle, is probably one of the country’s most recognisable symbols. Standing bold, beautiful and strong – it has always blossomed across Scotland’s landscapes and is now recognised worldwide as a Scottish emblem.

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The famous raincoat, known as the ‘mac’, was invented in Scotland in 1842 by Charles Macintosh. It is now iconic in ranges from Burberry, Gucci, Hermès and Louis Vuitton.

One of Scotland’s most famous dishes, Haggis, is traditionally made from a sheep’s liver, lungs and heart, and is cooked inside the animals stomach. Although it is a traditional Scottish dish, thanks to Robert Burns ‘Address to a Haggis’, it was actually founded in England, and is now banned in the USA! It is usually served with neeps (turnips), tatties (potatoes) and a wee dram (whisky) for a Burn’s supper.

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Scotland has the highest population of redheads in the world, myself being one of them! 13% of the population have red hair, with 40% of the population carrying the recessive gene.

The national (non alcoholic) drink is Irn Bru. Known for its bright orange colour, it is the third best-selling soft drink in the UK and has produced many famous – although somewhat controversial – adverts over the years.

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Scotland has a diverse musical heritage, and is known for its ceilidhs and bagpipes! Pipers are commonly heard before they are seen, and are often found entertaining people in the street, at festivals, weddings and Highland games. Famous dances include The Dashing White Sergeant, Strip The Willow and Virginia Reel, and are regularly danced at various celebrations.

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So happy St Andrew’s Day and treat yourself to a ‘wee dram’ tonight to toast our patron saint!

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